Henry J. Young Award - Robert Shaub, July 2018
It is an honor for me to make the presentation for Robert Shaub today, as he receives the Henry James Young award for his many contributions to local history and family genealogy. There is no doubt he deserves the award. We all may feel exhausted by the time we hear all Bob has accomplished in his 88 years. He is still working to learn more and share what he learns about local history and families in the Shrewsbury and Railroad Borough areas, and beyond that region of York County, and even beyond York County. Much of what I will present today was written by his daughter Megan Shaub, and I will include a few items of information Bob shared with me, and end with two examples of Bob’s willingness to share that affected me.
Bob was born in southern York County on December 31, 1929. It is said the weather was so beautiful on that end of December day that his father was out farming the fields when he was notified his baby boy was born. Bob was an only child as when pregnant with another boy his mother suffered an injury and she lost that child. Bob loved Railroad Borough where he was born and has lived his entire 88 years. He attended Railroad Elementary School, Shrewsbury High School in 1945, and finished his high school career at West York. He attended York Junior College and went on to graduate from Penn State with a dairy science major in 1952. That’s interesting because I had an Uncle Amos Hively born almost 18 years before Bob who also majored in dairy science at Penn State. He was not a history and family researcher, but like Bob my uncle was always learning and interested in so many things and just loved talking to people and writing letters.
Bob has served in many organizations throughout his life time. Henry James Young was a historian and genealogist and his life and work is a mirrored reflection of the interests and successes of Mr. Shaub. He has never stopped pursuing the Shaub family history, but the German origins of his Shaub family have so far eluded him, in spite of his serious efforts to solve that mystery.
Bob’s interest in family history began early in his life. At about 10 years of age he started to ask his mother questions about her family, as most of his mother’s ancestors and older relatives were deceased at the time he was born. There was nothing written down, but she was able to start him on the quest of finding the Thompson family. His mother told him not to be surprised about what he may find out about her family.
As many family historians do Bob soon branched out into researching many other of his ancestral families and has helped others connect their family trees to his or to the area. He has researched the Keeney, Klinefelter, Thompson, Rehmeyer, and Attig families. His Wallace line goes back to Alexander Wallace, a founder of Guinston Presbyterian Church and a family associated with the Wallace/Cross Mill. He has roots and branches that go back to many early founding families of York County. In addition to surnames already mentioned, he connects with Michael Danner, Casper Glatfelter, Ulrich Leib, Rudolph Yount, Benjamin Manifold, plus Lancaster Countian Christopher Eby.
Bob has the most complete history of the Archibald Thompson family in York County. In addition, to the Thompson Genealogy, Bob assisted Lowell Hammer to complete his genealogy book, “Johann Franz Hammer, Palatine Pioneer in Pennsylvania and Maryland and His Descendants,” a 519 page book. He also assisted Lou Ella Martin in writing her genealogy book, “Franz Henrich Gantz of York County,” some 359 pages. About 2002 Bob became acquainted with Bill Walters from Texas who was looking for the Proudfoot cemetery and homestead of Andrew Proudfoot. Andrew was married to Sarah Thompson, a sister of Bob’s great-great-great-grandmother Margaret Thompson. Robert not only found the grave site but became the vice-president of the Proudfoot family group in York County.
Bob is currently helping a local lady Amy Meyer find the builder of her colonial home on a neighboring farm. He is assisting Claire Kling in completing a book on the Kling family of York County. This will be a very interesting story of how the Kling family went west to seek a new beginning, only to return in a few years because of health reasons, and in a very short time the four children were orphans. It was Bob’s grandparents, George and Emma Shaub, who adopted one of the orphaned boys, George Kling, and his great-grandparents, Benjamin and Lucinda Y. Keeney who adopted the orphaned girl.
Bob has also written a book on local towns and areas. At present he is working on a history of the Tolna area of York County from the first land grant in 1769 in that area, bringing the history forward to the present. Also another ongoing project is the first land grant associated with Railroad Borough to the town’s incorporation in 1871. In 1971 he wrote the much sought after book, the “Centennial History of Railroad Borough.” Railroad, the town Bob was born in, has an important place of love in his heart and he has given back to the borough. Bob served on the Railroad town council for 48 years and served another eight prior years as tax collector. In January of this year he was honored with an award for his 48 years of service by the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs for his unusually long period of continual service.
Bob has received other awards from organizations, including in 2015 the Heritage Profile Award from the York County Heritage Trust.
Bob is a walking history book. He knows so much history of York County and is so willing to share his knowledge. He continually answers FaceBook questions when an old photo is needing more information, a business is not known, a location is being questioned, and on and on. He follows all the southern York County FaceBook groups, including those of Shrewsbury, New Freedom, Railroad, and Glen Rock. His daughter fears he would be active on more sites if he had more time in a day. He belongs to RetroYork with Jim McClure, the latter who enjoys the knowledge Bob can share with him. When customers come to Megan’s garden center Bob can converse with anyone and tell them the history of the area and in some cases the history of the property they live on, which is always enjoyable for them.
Bob and his late wife Margaret, who died March 28, 2014, gave talks on the World War II Prisoner of War Camp which was located in Stewartstown and had as many as 300 prisoners. This was really Margaret’s project, but Bob helped her with the research. Bob and Margaret collected a wonderful amount of memorabilia on this slice of history. They researched and found some of the former German prisoners. Bob is saddened that he is not able to give talks any longer since he has Parkinson’s, which has affected his voice and stamina.
With his love of history he is the primary person who helped save the Horn Farm and got the first committee together after writing a letter to a newspaper editor when there was the possibility the farm would be developed. We need more people like Bob who are willing to make great effort to save our history and buildings.
Bob was one of the founding life members of the Codorus Valley Historical Society. He was the editor of the six to eight page newsletter, “Codorus Valley Chronicles,” for about ten years. He still tried to attend all of their monthly meetings held in Jefferson. He also enjoys going to other local society meetings. Since he no longer drives, Megan drives him as often as possible to any meeting which has topics of interest to him. If he could drive to York City, he would enjoy helping folks who come to the History Center, but then he would not be getting his history research projects completed at home.
Over the years he has belonged to many organizations, of which the following are a few of them: Lancaster County Mennonite Historical Society; Harford County, Maryland Historical Society; Pennsylvania German Society; Casper Glatfelter Association; South Central Pennsylvania Genealogical Society (of course); Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society; Southwest Pennsylvania Genealogical Society; Carroll County, Maryland Historical Society.
Some of his other history based accomplishments and committees include the following: (1) Bob wrote the chapter on the Helb family for the book, “Collecting Antique Bottles with a York County Perspective” which was published in 1999; (2) He was an official member on the committee of Observation and Correspondence, York County Bicentennial Commission 1975-1978; (3) He was an official member of the 250th Anniversary Commission of York County, Historic Documentation Committee in 1999; (4) He was editor of the Glen Echo newsletter for the 125th Anniversary of Railroad Borough; (5) He was on the Sturgeon Keeney Historical Memorial Committee responsible for getting the highway marker installed in Shrewsbury; (6) He was vice-president of the Proudfoot/Wallace Genealogy group; (7) He was a member of the Horn Farm Preservation Board of Directors; (8) He was a charter member of the Pennsylvania Postal History Society #83; (9) He was a past member of the Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums.
Bob’s love of history got him into collection stamps and postcards. He possibly has one of the most extensive York County Post Card collections and memorabilia. This led him to belong to stamp and postcard clubs all around the region. He provided Harry McLaughlin with many of the Then and Now photographs for the York Dispatch Around Town articles that were a regular feature in the 1990s. Now in addition to all the above, Robert had energy enough to find time to raise a family of three children, at one time farmed 1000 acres, and assisted his daughter for many years with her business as it grew. Plus he was involved in a hunting camp, holding offices of president and treasurer, active in the Guernsey Breeders Association for which he was president for a time, and active in the York County Potato Growers for whom he served as treasurer. He served in the Army and was Soldier of the Month in September 1955 at Camp Chaffer, now Fort Smith, in Arkansas and in 1956 at Fort Hamilton, New York.
For many years I researched in great detail the history of the church I formerly attended. In January 1994 I received a package in the mail from Bob Shaub. It contained eleven issues of a church publication called the New Harmony Visitor. The issues were scattered, but the first was dated May 1896 and the latest one was dated November 1899. From the volume numbers and the issue numbers I could tell it began monthly publication in January 1896. I do not know how long it was published. This was all very exciting because in spite of all my detailed research I had no idea such a publication even existed. Since Bob mailed me the copies he found and purchased at a flea market, only one other issue of the New Harmony Visitor has come to light. It was in possession of a New Harmony member who died at the age of 105. Bob would not have had to gift the issues he found to me, but he generously did. They contain fabulous details about New Harmony’s events occurring at the time and sermonettes by Rev. McKee lecturing the members for not being as enthusiastic and serious about their Christian life as he thought they should be. By the way the envelope in which Bob mailed the issues to me has on it ten large 29 cent stamps, four different issues, all very colorful.
A few years ago before the SCPGS was founded in 1975, I had begun researching my family history, starting with the Hively family because no living person remembered how my Hively family was related to the Myers/Hively family in Carroll County, Maryland that held annual reunions beginning long before I was born. In time I figured out my great-grandfather was a brother of their Hively ancestor. I had early on discovered Hively was not the original surname spelling of my family, but rather the original was Haible and it was a German family. That this surname ancestry was of German origins was a surprise to me, a novice genealogist at that time. My immigrant ancestor Jacob Haible, along with his younger brother, came as single men in 1749. Living first in or around Yorktown for some years, after his marriage, in 1764 Jacob bought land in Shrewsbury Township. Jacob lived on that property until his death in 1785 or 1786. By his will he ordered the property sold. The property was bought and sold by a few owners in a short number of years until it was bought in 1794 by Baltzer Faust. Fortunately there is a very informative unrecorded deed here at the History Center which gives a history of the property from the time it was warranted and then sold to Jacob Haible until Baltzer Faust began selling lots off the property in 1797.
The Faust deed, that had him as a seller of a lot in what is now Shrewsbury Borough, informed me that at least a part of Jacob Haible’s farm had become part of the town of Shrewsbury. With a little more investigation I discovered where the farm was. Guess what? Much of the farm that has not been developed is now owned by Robert Shaub. I visited him and he welcomed me and showed me the oldest part of his home, some of which could easily have been the actual building in which the Jacob Hively family lived until Jacob’s death. In 1999 when the 250th anniversary of the Hively arrival in America was celebrated with a Hively reunion in York County, Robert graciously welcomed the big tour into the old part of his home. Bob is generous.
Thank you Bob for all you have done to benefit so many others.